Berklee College of Music Marks 20 Years of Innovating Education at Umbria Jazz Festival, plans to celebrate by honoring Hank Jones, Mccoy Tyner, Enrico Rava, and paying Tribute to Charlie Parker

Berklee College of Music in July will celebrate its 20th season of jazz education at the Umbria Jazz Festival, in Perugia, Italy, July 5 – 17, 2005, with the Berklee Summer School at Umbira Jazz Clinics, held at the Scuola Elementare Ciabatti" Via Brunacci Brunamonti. Over those 20 years, the college has brought a sample of its jazz and improvisation curriculum to mostly young Italian and other European musicians whose source of music education was mainly traditional conservatory training. Although music instruction had existed at Umbria and other jazz festivals, Berklee established a new international standard by bringing a college-based curriculum with performance and theory classes, faculty for a range of instrument and vocal instruction, student schedules, final concerts, auditions for college placement, and scholarships. The students’ appetite and passion for learning jazz in this environment has proven eager, and they have kept the summer school at capacity every year. Nearly 5,000 students have sharpened their playing and performing skills at the Summer School. More than one million dollars in tuition scholarships have been awarded.

To celebrate 20 years of Berklee Summer School at Umbira Jazz Clinics, Berklee is planning a number of events:

On July 16, at 11:00 a.m., at the Sala del Notari, Berklee College of Music President Roger Brown will confer honorary doctorate of music degrees upon pianists Hank Jones and McCoy Tyner, and trumpeter Enrico Rava for their enduring contributions to jazz and culture. Berklee at Umbria Jazz has also presented honorary doctorates to Sonny Rollins, Giovanni Tomasso, Pino Candini, Bobby McFerrin, Ray Brown, Jim Hall, Johnny Griffin, and Carlo Pagnotta.

Berklee faculty and summer school students on July 16 at 6:00 p.m. will lead a musical parade to recognize the 50th anniversary of Charlie Parker’s passing. The march begins at the fountain in the Piazza IV Novembre and all are welcome to join. Larry Monroe, Berklee Associate Vice President for International Programs and Summer School course director, will be teaching a clinic on Parker’s music at the school.

Summer School students will perform three free concert finales July 15 – 17 at the school. The public is invited. Scholarships amounting to $150,000.00 will be awarded for study at Berklee’s Boston campus at the July 17 concert at noon.

The Donna McElroy/Larry Monroe Band, comprised of Berklee faculty, will perform eight free evening concerts, July 9, 11, 16 and 17 at the Piazza IV Novembre at 9:00 p.m.; and July 12 – 15 at the Ferrarelle Stage.

In 1985, festival founder and artistic director Carlo Pagnotta recognized Berklee’s international reputation for jazz education and asked for the college’s support in developing a learning component for his event. Gary Burton, who retired in 2004 as Berklee’s Vice President; Larry Monroe, Berklee Associate Vice President for International Programs; jazz bassist Giovanni Tommaso; and Director of Organization for Umbria Jazz Sauro Peducci, with Pagnotta, all played major roles in developing the Berklee Summer School at Umbria Jazz Clinics, and all are still involved with the program.

This summer’s school is full to capacity, as it is every year, with 240 students who will attend from all over Europe, with others who traditionally come from Africa, Australia, Turkey, the U.S., among other countries. The students come to learn from the Berklee faculty and special guest clinicians who in the past have included Michele Camilo, Wynton Marsalis, Elvin Jones, and Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, among many others who come to share their experiences with the students.

Students return annually to the Summer School to work with the Berklee faculty with whom they bond and often communicate with throughout the year. Teaching jazz and improvisation, the faculty offer a music education that is unmatched by traditional European conservatories. This year’s faculty will be Mark White (guitar), Scott deOgburn (trumpet), Jeff Galindo (trombone), Matthew Nicholl (piano), Oscar Stagnaro (bass), Ron Savage (drums); Donna McElroy (voice); Dennis Montgomery III (voice, piano, gospel choir); Jim Kelly (guitar); Greg Badolato (tenor sax); and Larry Monroe (conducting special lectures).

Thirty percent of students who are awarded scholarships at the conclusion of the Summer School matriculate to the Boston campus, most being Italian, resulting in young artists from all over the world going to Berklee when they might not have otherwise had the chance. Italians who got their start at the Summer School and then went on to Berklee and eventually bigger things include bassists Matt Garrison (solo, and with Herbie Hancock, Joni Mitchell, Pat Metheny, The Gil Evans Orchestra, Chaka Khan) and Marco Panascia (Ben Dixon, Joe Sample, Michel Legrand, Teodross Avery, Lewis Nash) and 2005 Festival performer, Verve recording artist Chiara Civello.

Says Monroe, “Our curriculum has stayed the same over the years because European youngsters tend to be more focused on what is jazz than young American or Japanese students. They really like the traditional music. Even the vocalists want to sing like Cassandra Wilson over Whitney Houston.”

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